Parenting: Techniques vs. You
There is a saying in the world of therapists that “you are your best technique.” What this means is that all of the therapeutic techniques combined do not equal the unique measure of help you can bring to the client by being wholly and authentically your healthiest “self.” So, if you have mad therapy skills, but you are a real jerk who has never dealt with her inner demons, you’re likely to not be much help to your client. Makes sense.
May I propose that the same is true for parenting?
It seems to me that we are often searching high and low for the best parenting techniques while neglecting our greatest parenting asset – ourselves. (No, I am not forgetting about Jesus. I am suggesting that Jesus can do immeasurably more through us when we are tending to our relationship with Him.)
When you and I deal with our junk, we are better parents. There is less junk in the way between us and wisdom. When we spend time examining our inner world – confessing sin and inviting the Holy Spirit to lead us – we will inevitably exhibit the fruit of the Spirit as we parent. And that is a win for both parent and child.
But when faced with the choice between “Have a New Kid by Friday” and “Work Through Your Most Painful & Shameful Junk,” we tend to choose the former. Techniques sound a little less exhausting than self-examination.
But you are your best technique!
And the best gift you can give your kiddo is a mom or dad who is living the very life that they want for their kids. I don’t want my sons to grow up to be described as “well-behaved.” I want my boys to become adults who are walking with God, full of wisdom and joy, and living out of a sense of purpose. And how will they know what that looks like if I don’t show them?
Listen. I am not suggesting perfection. I am not saying that every last one of us needs to spend the next five years in therapy in order to have any hope of parenting effectively. But I am suggesting that we view the hard work of emotional and spiritual growth as being integral to parenting well.
We cannot skip our Bible reading and prayer time every day and then hope to respond in a godly manner when there is another glass of spilled milk or a teenager with a wrecked car. We. Cannot. Do. It. We cannot manufacture godliness on our own power and more than our children can manufacture good behavior on their own power. We. All. Need. Jesus.
Parenting books are great. Techniques are helpful. But don’t forget that YOU are your best parenting technique.
So keep working on “you.” Don’t give up. And do it for your kids.